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Concierge medicine, also known as retainer medicine is a relationship between a patient and a primary care physician in which the patient pays a certain amount for a specific period of time for unrestricted access to a concierge doctor. This payment may or may not be in addition to other charges.
This totally depends on the type of contract between the patient and the doctor. In return of paying a fixed rate, the physician provides enhanced care to the patient. Some of the benefits of practicing concierge medicine are that the physicians have more time to focus on their patients, and the patients also have direct access to their doctor. Concierge medicine removes the burden of long waiting hours in the hospital. Most concierge medicine practices have a lot of similarities. However, there are some differences, especially when it comes to structuring charges paid, and the mode of operation. Concierge medicine has become increasingly popular over the past few years, and more doctors are embracing this type of practice. Some of the reasons behind this are that physicians tend to earn more, and are more effective in carrying out their job, especially when it comes to meeting their patients’ needs. In addition, their patients are more satisfied because their physicians have more time to focus on them. Concierge medicine is ideal for those that can’t afford long waiting hour and those that need to be able to get through to their physician whenever they want.
Do Concierge Doctors Take Medicare?
Concierge medicine makes it easy for patients on the plan to have direct unrestricted access to their physician. Although a lot of people would like to get on this plan, it’s always important to make inquiries if your insurance would cover concierge medicine. Unfortunately, concierge medicine doesn’t cover concierge medicine membership. The reason for this is that concierge physicians may charge for what isn’t covered under Medicare. Concierge doctors must adhere to the following rules if they’re to be covered by Medicare:
- Physicians who accept to attend to you, can’t charge more than the Medicare-covered services. The implication of this is that the membership retainer fee cannot include the extra charges for services that Medicare usually covers, else Medicare won’t cover the service.
- All Medicare doctors can charge you for items and services that are not covered by Medicare
- Doctors that refuse an assignment can still charge you more than the amount approved by Medicare, for Medicare-related services, although with a 15% limit, also referred to as the “limiting charge.”
How Much Does Concierge Medicine Cost?
Concierge doctors provide known as “private medicine” to patients. In this type of system, patients pay a certain amount upfront. This payment could be monthly, quarterly, annually and so on, depending on the agreement between the physician and the patient. On the one hand, the patient pays the money, while in return, gets full access to the services provided by the physician. It has been shown that about 6500 physicians in the United States practice concierge medicine. This is a huge development from a small number of about 150 in 2005. Concierge medicine has gained a lot of popularity in recent years. There is a forecast that the growth rate would be about 2.5% yearly. The retainer fee paid by patients varies from one doctor to the other. However, patients do pay an average of $1200 to about $1500 per year. This payment can be divided into various parts and can be paid in installments. Although this system of medicine reduces the number of patients doctors attend to, physicians end up spending more time with their patients. In addition, patients would have more frequent visits to their doctor, and more regular emails and telephone conversations between the doctor and his/her patients. It has also been shown that patients under concierge medicine health care are generally healthier and more satisfied with their treatment.
What Are The Types Of Concierge Medicine?
There are various primary types of concierge medicine business models. Below are some of the categories of these models:
- Fee for care: This is a yearly retainer model, in which the patient pays monthly, quarterly, or annual payment to the physician. This payment usually includes most of the services the physician provides in his office. Usually, some other services such as vaccinations, laboratory work, and radiological test are not included in this payment. These are paid differently from the annual retainer fee.
- Fee for extra care: This is similar to the Fee for care plan in some ways. However, the extra services are charged to Medicare or other insurance plans that the patient may have. Some of the benefits of the Fee for extra care include tow retainer models, which are same-day access to your physician, email, phone or text messages to your physician, unrestricted and unlimited access to your doctor’s office, online consultations and so on.
- Hybrid concierge model: The Hybrid concierge model is the type in which the doctor charges a monthly, quarterly or an annual retainer fee for the services the patient’s insurance doesn’t cover. Patients would also have an unrestricted communication link with the physician. Under this plan, physicians can bill Medicare and other insurance companies for the services covered by their plans. In addition, physicians can also continue to see their concierge patients and charging them for the extra services they are giving them. Some physicians like to do “cash-only” kind of arrangement and do not accept any form of insurance.
Benefits Of Concierge Medicine
Some of the benefits of concierge medicine include the following:
- Concierge doctors provide longer appointments
- Concierge doctors have more time to spend with their patients.
- Concierge doctors provide preventive care
- Concierge doctors can manage all aspects of patient care
- Concierge medicine is cost-effective
- Personalization: Concierge medicine affords the physician the opportunity to meet the needs of their community.
This is beneficial for the doctors, as their community might be willing to pay more for the additional care and services included in concierge medicine.
What Are The Cons Of Concierge Medicine?
Some of the cons of concierge medicine include the following:
- Lesser patients higher expectations.
- Loss of patients due to the high cost of concierge medicine.
5 Best Practices for Concierge Medicine | HealthLeaders Media. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.healthleadersmedia.com/clinical-care/5-best-practices-concierge-medicine
Concierge medicine. (2019). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concierge_medicine